Anish Kapoor (b. 1954)
Space as Object
37 x 37 x 37 in. (93.9 x 93.9 x 93.9 cm.)
Executed in 2001.
Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York

Lot Essay

A rectangular block of two-toned acrylic, biomorphic interior orbs of air frozen in space, their residue floating as if spontaneously set in motion, Space as Object expresses Anish Kapoor's ingenuity, meticulous handling of materials and his commitment to issues relating to phenomena, perception, and poetical meaning. At the center of Anish Kapoor's project, is the sublime-that which impresses the mind with a sense of the ephemeral, its grandeur and power. That such an object might render empty space sublime, perceptible only through its absence, symbolized by the object that has displaced it, can be gleaned from a walk around this silent mass, its luminosity turning from clear to silver in an experience both uncanny and breathtaking, a void bounded.

The mysterious power of Space as Object is the subject Kapoor activates by placing the viewer in the active role of defining its meaning. Kapoor is concerned not with theory or materials or technique, with style per se, but rather with the fact of fashioning what is possible "through the material." (S. Gach, "Interview - Anish Kapoor," Sculpture, February 1996, p. 22). What animates Space as Object is its ability to constantly amaze, to represent emptiness, Kapoor's primary concern, and to account in some way for what is missing, what has been displaced. To strive to create extraordinarily aesthetic, optically mysterious objects is Kapoor's primary concern, but not necessarily to give meaning to them: "Is it my role as an artist to say something, to express, to be expressive? I think it's my role as an artist to bring to expression, it's not my role to be expressive it is my role to bring to expression, let's say, to define means that allow phenomenological and other perceptions which one might use, one might work with, and then move towards a poetic existence (Exh. Cat., London, Hayward Gallery, Anish Kapoor, 1998, p. 11). Concerned with the give and take of opposites, with presence and absence, being and non-being, place and non-place, light is the essence of the artist's project, and this theme is nowhere more under investigation than in the translucence of his resin sculpture, as in the present work.

Germano Celant claims that "he has the power to give new forms to matter, endowing it with new character" (G. Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, p. XI). Space as Object, an exquisite example of the imaginative use of form and matter, presents a combination of resin and air that can be linked to Kapoor's earliest experiments with light, with the "void," and with the sublime. A significant example of Kapoor's interest in the viewer and his or her relationship with space, continues Kapoors exploration of what the artist considered the "void": ''The void is not silent ... I have always thought of it more and more as a transitional space, an in-between space. It's very much to do with time. I have always been interested as an artist in how one can somehow look again for that very first moment of creativity where everything is possible and nothing has actually happened. It's a space of becoming ... "something" that dwells in the presence of the work ... that allows it or forces it not to be what it states it is in the first instance.'' (A. Kapoor in Exhibition Catalogue, London, Hayward Gallery, Anish Kapoor, 1998, pp. 35-36). Among Kapoor's most stunning works, meticulously executed, its visual vocabulary both otherworldly and tactile in nature, this work presents a summation of the artist's interests in sensation, in the intangible and the infinite. By looking through work, contemplating its interior suspensions of air, its dual refractions of light, the viewer becomes a part of the artist's lifelong project, which is to contemplate an object as if to contemplate a spatial void. In doing so, Space as Object, becomes "a contemporary equivalent of the sublime, which is to do with the self - its presence, absence or loss." In contemplating Space as Object, the viewer is drawn into the frisson between the ephemeral and the concrete, between object and space, and between the minimalist pedestrian and in the universal sublime, "lost forever in the abyss of the infinite" (the artist interviewed by Sarah Kent in: Royal Academy of Arts Magazine, Autumn 2009, No. 104, p. 43).

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